HIST4028 History without borders: Special field project
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2015-2016 / 2014-2015 / 2013-2014 / 2012-2013
Tang Siu Hang, Winnie*
"I am honoured to be invited to take HIST4028 History without Borders. This course is a highlight in my undergraduate years.
My research focuses on the major anti-suffrage organisation in Britain - the National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage (NLOWS). It explores factors contributing to the failure of the NLOWS and argues that the anti-suffrage movement had been defeated in 1913. It challenges some existing interpretations on British anti-suffrage movement.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to spend sixteen days in London visiting three archives - the British Library for Curzon's papers, the National Archives for Cromer's papers, and the Women's Library at LSE for the materials of the NLOWS and the Woman's National Anti-Suffrage League. The archival experience has been intellectually inspiring. It prompts me to reflect on historiography, specifically related to handling first-hand materials. It also allows me to interact with historical records. All of these archival materials had been produced by great men and women in British suffrage history. They sparked immense excitement, astonishment and curiosity. These intense feelings make this course unlike any other."
* Tang Siu Hang, Winnie (supervised by Prof. David Pomfret), is the Regional Winner in the Asia region in the History category, and is named a Highly Commended Entrant in The Undergraduate Awards for the essay "Explain the Failure of the National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage in 1910-1913."
Lau Yan Kei, Carman
"I am so happy that I can design and conduct my own research project in the final semester of my university life. It has been such a great experience for me to do research independently. My research topic focused on the female domestic service industry from 1880 to 1914 in England.
I conducted my research mainly in the British Library and the Women’s Library in LSE. At the beginning, I focused mainly on books and journals because these are two types of materials that I often use in research. However, as I went deeper down into the topic, I was able to find some other materials, such as newspaper articles, which are highly relevant to my topic. Through the access in the British Library, I found many news articles wrote by domestic servants from 1880 to 1914. In fact, their voices are absented from the books and journals that I have looked at earlier. But I am so glad that I managed to find these sources at the end and put them in my research project. To conduct research in archives overseas allows me to get expose to new areas of knowledge. With the large amount of materials available in archives overseas, I was able to find sources that are not available in Hong Kong."
Chan Hiu Chung, Adelaide
"My project focused on identifying the differences between the role of female missionaries in two missionary societies in England during 1900-1930. Selecting two British societies that had different denominational backgrounds, I flew to London and Birmingham to seek answers to the different works the missionaries did, the impact they had on Chinese women and the effect their religious initiatives had in Fukien and Chefoo in the early 20th century. It was an unforgettable experience as I went into the archives and handled diaries, letters and governmental documents written over 100 years ago. Furthermore, this was an optimal way to wrap up my university career as I lived the lifestyle of a historian for two weeks, learnt to handle documents with care and applied the skills and knowledge I had acquired from the past four years as a History major into this research project."
Chong Pang, Beatrice
"I am very glad to be invited to enroll this course so that I can have an experience in conducting research in archives overseas in my undergraduate studies. This course is very different from the other courses offered by the department. Instead of having regular lectures, students have to decide their own research topic and plan their very first overseas research trip.
The average disaster aid given by each Taiwanese to Japan was the highest all over the world after the Great East Earthquake. During my stay in Taipei and Tokyo, I researched on the language of giving, the way of giving and the reasons for them to give generously. This opportunity enabled me to read local newspaper and reports so that I can examine the attitude of the Japanese towards the humanitarian assistance given after the earthquake. Besides going to overseas archives and libraries, I visited some NGOs that played an important role in encouraging and collecting donations. The trip was productive and fun. I learnt a lot about how to get useful sources in overseas archives and conduct independent research."
Kam Wai Yu, Vivian
"I was researching on the alcohol regulations of Hong Kong and Singapore at the turn of the 20th century for HIST 4028. Therefore, apart from researching on the colonial archives in Hong Kong, I had a field trip to Singapore and looked into the C.O. series in the National University of Singapore. Such experience was unique to my entire undergraduate studies and allowed me to have a taste of building my own research on primary material. It was also a truly enriching experience because aside from reading the archives, I found setting my foot on Singapore helped me to understand the society hence the research background better. I would definitely recommend the History Without Borders course to anyone who is interested in historical research as his or her capstone course."
Koo Siu Ki, Brian
"My project was associated with the British educational policies in late-eighteenth-century India. By studying the archives of the India Office of the British Library, I was able to deeply investigate Warren Hastings' establishment of the Madrasa' Aliya in 1781. Subsidising students to conduct historical research overseas is definitely one of the greatest benefits of this course, as students can seize this opportunity to learn to analyse archives and use diverse evidence, and explore how interesting research is."
Guan Zheng, Jesse*
"I am privileged to have been invited to HIST3028 'History without Borders: Special Field Project', without which I would not have had the opportunity to formulate my own research plan and carry it out by conducting archival research outside of Hong Kong. The most exciting moment was perhaps when I laid hands on the original documents produced more than 70 years ago – they felt particularly real when I struggled to figure out the handwriting.
Aside from reading document files and jotting down notes in the archives, I took the opportunity to see the cities, trying, most of the time in vain, to find some historical connectedness between them and their past. Nevertheless, history was being shaped all the time: the landslide defeat of the KMT Party in local elections, the very first National Day for Nanjing Massacre, and back in Hong Kong, the Umbrella Movement — all happening during my research process and field trips.
Through this course, I have learnt how to approach the past that has been documented and archived. I have also had the chance to think about how history is written, and thus to discern some of the pitfalls that this process may create."
* Guan Zheng (supervised by Dr. Peter Cunich) was the winner of Highly Commended Entrant prize in the internationally renowned Undergraduate Awards for the essay "Student Movements in Wartime China, 1937-1949."
"I was generously invited to the History Without Borders course where I was funded to travel to the University of Hawaii at Manoa in order to carry out research on the topic of diplomatic history surrounding the role of NGOs in foreign policy making. My project, which focuses on the Institute of Pacific Relations, explores the role of individuals and NGOs in shaping and representing foreign policy and the extent to which the governments truly represented public opinion. The project also explores the diplomatic relations between China – through their activities in the Institute of Pacific Relations, namely the conferences – and Japan in light of the 'Manchurian problem' that existed in the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s. The main focus of the project is to explore the deteriorating Sino-Japanese relations, and how the 1929 and 1931 Institute of Pacific Relations conferences revealed such tensions from a non-governmental, private perspective, which the Institute of Pacific Relations claimed to be."
"On reflection, HIST3028 course gave me real experience of archival research and certainly enhanced my interest in the work of a historical researcher. I am also glad to work on my interested research topic as I could eventually gain deep understanding in the topic."
Bobby Tam Chun
I was researching in London for a course called History without Borders. It was a unique experience as I could totally decide my research topic and method and it was the first time I research in a foreign land. I was researching about London Counterculture in the 1960s. I did my research in the British National Archive in Kew, British Library in St. Pancras and also carried out interviews with interesting figures.
Ngai Tsz Fung, Raphael
During my stay in London, I researched the political career of the Protestant missionary, Robert Morrison (1782-1834), examining his role as a translator in the East India Company and a mediator of disputes in British diplomatic missions in Qing China. During my archival studies in the SOAS Library, the British Library, and the Wellcome Library, I read family letters, church correspondence and the Canton East India Company factory records. This provided me with practical experience of studying primary sources and illuminated a previously understudied part of Morrison’s life. During the visit, I also took the opportunity to do sight-seeing, visit museums, and enjoy British cuisine. I will never forget this memorable time in London.
This course enriched my undergraduate studies. I gained a deeper understanding of Christianity through this course and HIST3023 (History Research Project) in which I investigated the preaching strategies of Matteo Ricci. I then broadened my horizons and looked into the Chinese Religion in Malacca and Penang in HIST3031 (East Asia Field Trip). I also applied historical theories such as the biographical approach and interdisciplinary history from HIST3015 (The Theory and Practice of History) to study Morrison. The theme of languages and diplomatic contacts as forces connecting different parts of the world is also relevant to HIST3029 (Transnational history: A New Perspective on the Past). Finally, I became acquainted with the Morrison Collection in the HKU Libraries, which aroused my interest in further exploring the preservation of Chinese culture in wartime Hong Kong.
Winnie Hung Wai Yan
The course provides me with the valuable opportunity to conduct a primary research on qipao, which is the topic that I am interested in. I gained a very memorable experience of sitting in the library and read through all related primary sources for the whole day. Although it may sound like a tiring job, I felt like I really became a historian at that moment. Besides, the course gives me the flexibility of how to present my findings. I could thus go into the community and share my results with some local secondary students. This was so remarkable.
I took HIST3028 as part of my dissertation electives. I highly recommend the course to anyone intending to pursue history on a higher level not only because it works to enhance your academic CV but also because you will truly benefit from the way the course is structured and the unique learning experience of doing primary research in a foreign city that has special connection to the topic of your thesis.